In between the cookie-baking, school Christmas pageants, and vacation-planning, if you are looking for things to keep the whole family entertained from now until the New Year, here are a few things to do in and around Metro Vancouver.
Particularly for those who would much rather give an experience than a thing, some tickets or a date for a special outing can be the perfect thing to kick off the season or slide into the stocking of a special little one.
Here are 12 awesome things to do with kids in November and December in Metro Vancouver.
Disney's appeal is irrefutable, but you can stop searching the Disney+ app and swap in some searching of a different kind. Disney on Ice’s Mickey’s Search Party is now a multi-level performance piece including acrobats, aerial stunts, video projections, skeletons and even stilts. The storyline for Mickey’s Search Party features Mickey and pals as they follow Captain Hook’s treasure map for clues to find Tinker Bell after he attempts to capture her magic. Plus, hitting the ice for the first time is the enchanting and colourful world of Pixar's Coco.
When: Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 2019
Where: Pacific Coliseum - 2901 E Hastings St, Vancouver
Cost: $55-65; buy online
Come out for some family fun at the 16th annual TELUS presents the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade, which features more than 40 marching bands, choirs, festive floats and community groups. The festivities begin at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver with Breakfast with Santa (8:30-10:30 a.m.- reservations required) and two hours of free family activities (10 a.m.-noon) at Christmas Square in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. After the parade, families can head to TELUS Garden at 510 W. Georgia St. for free photos with Santa from 2-4 pm. Parade starts at noon at Georgia and Broughton.
When: Sun. Dec. 1. Parade starts at noon.
Where: Parade route begins at Georgia and Broughton in Vancouver
Kids Day at the Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver's enchanted German-style Christmas village will pop up once again at Jack Poole Plaza, beckoning shoppers, families, and merry-seekers of all kinds for its end-of-year run. The Vancouver Christmas Market will be lit up with holiday lights, including the 36,000 lights on Canada’s first-even “Walk-In Christmas Tree” that anchors the marketplace. You’ll also find the beloved Christmas Carousel and the Christmas Pyramid’s ‘Flying Stage’ perched 10 feet high above the market offering a lively line-up of daily festive entertainment. There's plenty for kids and families to do! Take note, Dec. 1 is Kids Day at the Market, so there will be free admission for those 12 and under, and carousel rides by donation to Children’s Wish Foundation all day long.
When: Nov. 20 to Dec. 23, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; December 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kids Day is Dec. 1
Where: Jack Poole Plaza – 1055 Canada Place
Cost: Online Admissions – Adult $12.99, Seniors $10.99, Youth $6.99 (Includes FREE 2019 Season Pass. Upgrade to Fast Pass for $3.99); Gate Admissions – Adult $15, Seniors $13, Youth $9 (Children under 6 are Free) Upgrade to a Fast Pass on site for $5
The Rogers & Hammerstein musical that's among the favourite things for many a child and child at heart, The Sound of Music is onstage now at the Stanley. For those who cannot resist singing along, there are sing-a-long performances on Dec. 26 and Jan. 4. The hills will be alive!
When: Nov. 7, 2019–Jan. 5, 2020
Where: Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage - 2750 Granville St, Vancouver
Cost: Tickets start at $39; buy online
Free skating at Robson Square Ice Rink
Lace up those skates and glide into some holiday family fun. The rink at Robson Square will be open for free ice skating for all ages and abilities from Dec. 1, 2019 until Feb. 29, 2020 – and they’re open on holidays, too. While there is no cost to get on the rink, if you don’t have your own skates to lace up, there are cash-only rentals for $5 a pair. Skate rentals close 30 minutes prior to rink closing time.
When: Dec. 1, 2019 until Feb. 29, 2020
Where: Robson Square, Vancouver
Cost: $5 skate rental, free admission
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is set to perform a live score to a true holiday favourite and, arguably, one of the best Christmas movies ever made—Home Alone. Experience the comical film with enchanting sound as the VSO performs renowned composer John Williams’ charming and delightful score. The film is hilarious, heart-warming and appropriate for the whole family to enjoy.
When: Dec. 18 and 20 at 7 p.m.
Where: Orpheum Theatre
East Van Panto presents Pinocchio
Every journey into adulthood inevitably includes run-ins with a fox, a cricket and an orca, and this year’s East Van Panto reflects that timeless truth. East Van Panto: Pinocchio follows an old ice cream seller named Gelato, the “mysterious Beckwoman of Commercial Drive” and a potential cappuccino war. Very Vancouver. Back for its seventh year, this rendition of the East Van Panto is written by Marcus Youssef and directed by Stephen Drover. Ages 5 and up suggested.
When: Nov. 20, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020
Where: York Theatre - 639 Commercial Dr, Vancouver
Cost: Tickets start at $26, available online
All aboard one of the most magical holiday mini-adventures in Vancouver, as the Bright Nights Christmas Train chugs merrily around in Stanley Park for another joyous season. The train and plaza will be sparkling with three million lights, offering an immersive illuminated experience like no other. Enjoy festive music and themed displays as the train makes its journey along its tracks, and in the plaza, as well, where there’s plenty to see and do.
When: Nov. 28, 2019-Jan. 1, 2020 (Closed Christmas Day)
Where: Stanley Park Miniature Railway – on Pipeline Road in Stanley Park, via the West Georgia Street park entrance
Cost: $8.40-12.60. Tickets available online
Free Christmas movies on Cineplex Community Day
Christmas movies are a guaranteed way to get into the holiday spirit, and there’s one day you can head out to see some big time favourites on the big screen for absolutely free. For this year’s Community Day, Cineplex has partnered with Warner Bros. Pictures Canada to offer a line-up of favourite holiday flicks on Dec. 7 for movie-lovers of all ages, including A Christmas Story, Elf, Gremlins, The Polar Express and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. No tickets are required – doors open at 9 a.m. and seats are available on a first come, first serve basis. All screenings begin at 9:30 a.m.
When: Sat. Dec. 7 at 9 a.m.
Where: Participating Cineplex theatres; see here for a full list of B.C. theatres
Step into a dazzling winter wonderland this holiday season at VanDusen Garden’s annual Festival of Lights with over a million twinkling lights. The festival also includes a breathtaking display on Livingstone Lake every 20 minutes, where lights dance to classic, disco, and soul music sets. Kids can have fun making music with recycled instruments, or play the piano and sing along to holiday tunes in the garden.
When: Saturday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Jan. 5 from 4 – 9:30 p.m. (Closed on Christmas Day)
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden – 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver
Cost: $19 Adults (19 – 64 years); $14.50 Seniors (65 years) & Youth (13 – 18 years); $14.25 Garden (VBGA) members with Valid Card; $11.50 Child (4 – 12 years). Note: Prices are higher for premium nights, which include Dec.7, 8, 14, 15, and 21 to 29, and all ticket prices shown are online. Prices are higher at the gate. Find out more information and purchase tickets here.
The mountain-full of merry magic that awaits at Vancouver’s very own “North Pole,” includes everything from thrilling outdoor activities like snow carpet sliding and ice taking on their breath-taking 8,000-square-foot outdoor pond to family fun starring Santa and his reindeer and activities for kids. A full entertainment scheduled, plus details about each of the on-site activities and features is available online.
When: Nov. 22, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020
Where: Grouse Mountain Resort – 6400 Nancy Green Way, North Vancouver
Cost: Ticketing and admission info options vary; details are online
Hear stories by the fire, taste a roasted chestnut, and join costumed interpreters for a guided, holiday-themed tour of the historic Fort Langley site. Admire the charming holiday ambiance and take family snapshots at various scenic spots on site.
When: Dec. 21-23, 2019
Where: Fort Langley National Historic Site - 23433 Mavis Ave, Langley City
Cost: Regular admission fees - $7.80/adult; $6.55/senior. Free admission for youth 17 and under and annual pass holders.
With files from John Kurucz, Elisia Seeber, and Elana Shepert